Where is the Science?: Design as an Introduction to the Scientific Method

By Dorothy Ahoklui, November 6, 2006

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Other

Subject Area

  • Science

Lesson Time

Two fifty-minute class periods


The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to the Scientific Method through the process of design. After conducting this activity the students will be able to realize how the process of design and the scientific method are incorporated in their daily lives.

National Standards

Standard 11. Understands the nature of scientific knowledge Standard 12.  Understands the nature of scientific inquiry

Common Core Standards

Anchors for Reading:

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening:

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.


Students will be able to:
  • analyze a problem
  • design a plan to solve a given problem
  • critique design plans of their classmates
  • write clear instructions
  • link aspects of the design process to the scientific method


Why Design? by Anna Slafer and Kevin Cahill, pg. 38-39 "Scrambled or Over Easy?"


  • eggs
  • pencils
  • paper (8.5 X 11) and (18 X24)
  • index cards
  • rubber bands
  • plastic drop cloth or a garbage bag




1. In order for the teacher to conduct the lesson he/she must read the activity "Scrambled or over Easy?" by Anna Slafer and Kevin Cahill. 2. As a motivation the teacher should have the students conduct a brainstorm activity by using the word design. A web diagram should be drawn on the board with (DESIGN) placed inside the center. Anything the students say, think, or feel about the word should be written around the web. Teacher Note: If the students are not responding to the activity then ask the students questions such as: • Why did you buy the sneakers you are wearing? • What are some of the things that made you purchase your clothes? • What do they think the designer of the clothes/sneakers was thinking about? • Do you think this school was designed? 3. After discussing the activity, write the definition of design on the board. "Design is a process where an individual or a team can observe, research, and create." 4. After defining the term "design," the teacher will conduct a read-aloud which will consist of the first and second paragraphs of page 38 of the "Scrambled or Over Easy" activity. The students should be aware that active listening is essential because they are going to be posed with a challenge at the conclusion of the read aloud. 5. Break the students into groups of two and write the following challenge instructions on the board. • In groups of two, discuss and design a package that uses only a single sheet of large drawing paper, and a rubber band to protect an egg from being dropped from one story floor. You may write the instructions and sketch your design on a sheet of loose-leaf paper. • Remember that the two of you are the only designers and another group will produce your solution from the instructions that you have provided, so make sure that they are clear and well thought out. • Your group will not be able to try out your solution by building a prototype, so it is important that your group foresees and solves any potential problems that may occur. Teacher note: The "Scrambled or Over Easy" activity states that the eggs are to be dropped from two stories but to make things easier, in my classroom, I stood on the table and held the egg to the ceiling and released it. 6. After the groups write and draw their solutions, they will switch with another group and critique each others plans on index cards using the following guiding questions/statements:
  • Can you comprehend the directions? Explain why? or Why not?
  • Do you think that this group's plan is going to work? Explain why? or Why not?
  • Give advice as to how your group would make this plan better.
7. After reviewing and writing the critiques, the groups will build the original solutions (meaning without part C of the critique). Remember, the team that wrote the solution doesn’t build their own—they give the directions to another team to build it. 8. When the groups have completed building the plans, the designs should be submitted to the teacher and he/she can hold up some of the samples and ask the class if they feel that the designs will be successful or not. After the short five minute discussion the experiment will be carried out. 9. At the completion of the activity the teacher should ask the groups why they felt their solutions worked or did not work. 10. The teacher should now revisit the steps of the activity by asking students questions such as (the responses should be written on the board or on chart paper):• What did the students do? • How did they go about doing what was given to them? • How did they know what they had to accomplish? These questions should generate student responses such as: * They were given a problem. * They had to plan a design. * They had to write clear instructions. * They had to conduct an experiment. * They had to draw a conclusion. 11. When the teacher feels that he/she has elicited enough responses, the teacher should ask the students where they use these types of steps in their every day lives. Possible answers may be preparing recipes, making food, do-it-yourself kits, etc. 12. Finally the teacher should ask the students if they know any aspect of science where they use steps or procedures like those they performed in the egg activity. After the students have given their answers, the teacher can write the words Scientific Method on the board. 13. The steps of the scientific method can now be explained: Scientific Method: 1) Define the Problem (Usually in the form of a question) i.e.: What effect does sunlight have on plants? How do you make a cake? 2) Formulate a Hypothesis A statement that can be tested and will answer your problem. 3) Design an Experiment a) Materials b) Procedure c) Conduct the experiment d) Observations e) Analyzing Data 4) Conclusion 14. Discuss the Scientific Method with the class, and after the discussion, have the students identify which steps of the egg experiment correlate with steps in the Scientific Method. Link the process of the activity to the Scientific Method. Based on the interpretation of their data, is the students’ hypothesis true? If not, what happened? Hold a discussion about improvements that could be made to their egg carriers.


In order to see if the students have successfully learned the objectives of the lesson, have the students rewrite the egg drop activity in the format of the scientific method. Define the Problem: i.e.: How can we create a package from paper that will be able to protect an egg when it is dropped from one story? Formulate a Hypothesis: i.e.: If the paper package is folded into a box and kept closed with a rubber band it will be able to protect the egg from breaking. Design an Experiment: Materials: (listed) Procedure: (The students will rewrite their instructions clearly.) Observations: (The students will write down what they observed.) Analyzing Data: (The students will analyze their plans.) Conclusion: The students will prove or disprove their hypothesis. They must have a logical explanation as to why they arrived at their conclusion. The students must also discuss and make suggestions as to how they could improve their design.

Enrichment Extension Activities

1. The students can revise and reconduct their experiments using the suggestions given to them by their classmates in addition to their own. 2. Students write a recipe for their favorite food in the form of the scientific method. 3. In the area of Architecture and Construction, the students can use the scientific method and the design process to build model structures by researching and testing out different types of materials. 4. As an extension of the motivation, the students can also use the definition of the design process to research a company. i.e. Nike to see how they make sneakers.

Teacher Reflection

When this lesson was conducted it was very successful. The students were very involved, shocked yet enthusiastic about the activity. It promoted class participation, cooperative learning, and presentation skills. The assessment demonstrated that the students were able to understand the scientific method and its relation to their everyday lives. Students even stated that they used aspects of the scientific method to pick out clothing in the morning. During the lesson, it was evident that the students need to work more on following directions, in addition to writing clear and concise instructions.

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